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Bronze scores again to send England to World Cup semis

Manchester City Women's Lucy Bronze became the heroine yet again as England Women defied the odds to book themselves a place in the World Cup semi-finals for the first time.

The right-back found the net for the second successive game to double her side's advantage after Jodie Taylor had opened the scoring, and the Lionesses stood firm when Christine Sinclair pulled a goal back to defeat tournament hosts Canada and make history once more.

As was the case before the last 16 clash with Norway, few had given Mark Sampson's side much chance of progressing before the game against the home side, who were backed by a sell-out crowd.

Regardless, as they have done on a number of occasions so far, England showed grit and determination to grind out a superb result and keep their World Cup dream alive.

It was a fine battling display and one that will live long in the memory as those in white continue to prove their doubters wrong.

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Now known as 'the Tinkerman' for his chopping and changing of his squad, Sampson opted to make two alterations to the side that defeated the Norwegians in a bid to conquer Canada.

'Super sub' Jill Scott came in for Fran Kirby, while Toni Duggan was replaced by Taylor. Bronze, Karen Bardsley and captain Steph Houghton retained their places.

Against the hosts, England knew they would be pitting themselves against a physical side full of confidence, backed by a vocal and expectant home crowd.

The 54,000 packed inside the BC Place Stadium were soon silenced though, as the Lionesses stunned the footballing world by claiming an early two-goal lead.

Although Canada had created the first real chance when Melissa Tancredi had curled over the bar, the visitors opened the scoring on 11 minutes.

It was a goal entirely of Taylor's own making, as she was alert to capitalise on a mistake from Lauren Sesselmann. Having won possession, the striker then burst forward and unleashed an effort past Erin McLeod and into the bottom corner.

Barely two minutes later, the lead was doubled, and it was City's own Bronze - the heroine of the victory over Norway - who netted it, rising to plant a looping header in off the bar.

Bronze

As expected - and buoyed by their fans - Canada responded well. Tancredi spurned a great chance to pull one back, heading over from close range, and Sinclair shot wide, while at the other end, Katie Chapman headed against the bar.

A 3-0 lead would have been an incredible feat to take into half-time but as it happened, England would not even have a clean sheet to savour.

Sinclair was the one to halve the deficit, making the most of Bardsley's parry to give the home side renewed hope ahead of the second half. It was exactly what the Lionesses did not need.

With their teamtalks fresh in their minds, both sides emerged from the break knowing the next goal could be crucial.

Karen Carney almost restored England's two-goal advantage but fired over, before Taylor forced McLeod to tip wide. Houghton also drove an effort into the goalkeeper's arms as Sampson's side looked to extend their lead before the inevitable onslaught arrived.

Lucy Bronze challenge

So it came. Canada responded by adopting a more attacking role and it almost paid dividends.

The hosts were given a boost when Bardsley was forced off with an eye injury and pressed for the equaliser. Sinclair saw a free-kick fly over and Sophie Schmidt volleyed too high as England were put under the cosh.

As the game entered its final minutes, the home side piled on the pressure. Though unconvincingly at times, the Lionesses dealt with all that came their way.

Through togetherness and willing, they battled valiantly - as they have throughout the competition - to hang on and rewrite the history books once again, by making it past the quarter-final stage for the first time.

As reward for their triumph, Sampson's side will face holders Japan in the last four in Edmonton at midnight BST on Thursday 2 July.


You can see your World Cup heroes in action when the FA Women's Super League resumes on Sunday 12 July.

MCWFC face Birmingham City Ladies at 2pm at the Academy Stadium and ticket information can be found here.

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